The world’s foremost Chopin authority died today, aged 100

The world’s foremost Chopin authority died today, aged 100


norman lebrecht

August 15, 2014

Professor Jan Ekier, pianist, composer and Chopin editor of the Polish National edition, died today, a fortnight short of his 101st birthday. His death has just been reported on Polish radio.

Jan, born August 1913, came eighth in the 1937 Chopin competition in Warsaw and made his name more as a scholar than as a performer.

He lived through Nazi occupation, Communism and rampant capitalism. I met him last summer at a conference for his centenary where speaker after speaker extolled his virtues and Jan seemed sweetly unmoved – except by the playing of music by Chopin, when he sat alert in his chair, following every note.

jan ekier


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    A tremendous legacy.

  • tbp says:

    Beautiful playing on the Nocturne.

    “He lived through Nazi occupation, Communism and rampant capitalism.” – ? Interesting sentence.

  • SVM says:

    A truly seminal musician, whose scholarship will continue to inform the study, interpretation, and performance of Chopin for years to come. Through his edition, I have been able to peel away the numerous mannerisms (not all of them bad) that have accrued in Chopin performance, whilst appreciating the paratactic nature of the music.

  • Kathleen Crees says:

    I was blest to have been granted a German scholarship to study the art of pianoforte performance and in particular the music of Chopin in Cologne with Professor Jan Ekier for 12 weeks whilst a young student at Trinity College of Music, London.
    I did a three month crash course in learning the German language before leaving for Germany and although I had problems sometimes understanding the language, I found that I usually understood musically what Professor Ekier was teaching us and his performances were unforgettable. Several times I was amazed to discover that I was moved to tears by the absolute beauty and depth of his playing. The sheer variety of colour, incredible controlled climaxes and degrees of soft tones in his interpretations and discipline He was also a most unforgettable human being and total musician. A year or so after my return to London I walked into my local music shop near College and I recognised that they were playing one of his recordings of Chopin’s music which the shop said was probably the only recording of his music in the UK and bought it! His style of performance of Chopin’s music was unmistakeable. I’ve always tried to stay aware in my performances of what I learnt from him and pass on that advice to my students. All the joys and sorrows of his life were in his performances. He was a generous teacher,a selfless person who was a true son of Poland and dedicated to furthering the music of Chopin and he also played superbly other repertoire presented by students at the classes all from memory. Thank you for so much Professor Jan Ekier.